BNP Test For Heart Failure: What Is Brain Natriuretic Peptide Test?

BNP test is a new diagnostic test that has impressed many heart specialist and clinicians for evaluating complex heart function. BNP test is brain natriuretic peptide test which measures the circulating BNP hormone in a person’s blood. BNP is important in regulating blood circulation. Scientists have found BNP action on the blood vessels, it causes them to dilate. The substance BNP is produced by the lower chambers of the heart called ventricles.

BNP test is useful in detecting the function of heart. In normal heart function, there is very small quantity of BNP circulating in the blood.

Circulating BNP increases in blood when the heart has to work hard for a long period of time as seen in heart failure. Once the treatment for heart failure is begun, the circulating BNP decreases.

Importance of BNP test:

  • To detect how severe the heart failure is.
  • It is useful in evaluating treatment response to heart failure.
  • Useful in differentiating other conditions that cause breathing difficulties such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • It is inexpensive and can be done at bedside.
  • You get BNP test results within 15 minutes.

BNP Blood Test For Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is caused when the heart muscles become weak.

The main reason for congestive heart failure is hypertension of long duration and coronary artery disease (CAD).

Normally the heart collects the impure blood from the veins and sends back the pure blood through arteries to all the tissues. In congestive heart failure, the muscles of the heart become weak and they are not able to pump as they used to do before. This result in less supply of oxygenated or pure blood to the tissues, simultaneously there is back up of blood in the lungs and the veins. It results into breathlessness and swelling in the limbs and face.

Heart failure is a serious condition, but advancement in treatment regimen has resulted in saving many from this catastrophic condition. However, before treatment it is necessary to diagnose congestive heart failure (CHF). Here comes the role of BNP test. Advanced form of CHF can be diagnosed clinically and with the help of ECG, X-ray chest and blood routine tests. But the problem arises in milder form of heart failure.

Many times the situation is confusing and the symptoms such as breathlessness and edema mimic the symptoms of lung disease or liver disease or kidney disease. In this condition the first test that a doctor advises is ECG (electrocardiogram). While BNP test cannot replace electrocardiography, it can become a complementary test for diagnosing heart failure.

What Is Brain Natriuretic Peptide Test?

BNP or brain natriuretic peptide, test is a bedside test and require small amount of blood to perform the test. The blood is placed in a machine; it takes 15 minutes for the test. BNP test helps to detect whether a person has heart attack. Besides this it also helps the physician to decide whether the patient requires hospitalization, treatment regimen and prognosis in a long term.

BNP test result is interpreted in following way:

  • BNP level below 100pg/mL = no heart failure.
  • BNP level above 100pg/mL= heart failure may be present.
  • BNP more than 900pg/mL =severe heart failure.

BNP test helps the physician in determining the treatment and prognosis of heart failure. Higher the level of BNP indicates poor prognosis. BNP test level also helps the physician to know whether the treatment is working. Falling BNP level in a heart failure patient, indicates that the treatment is working.